It's not a surprise that this occurs. After all, that's how each sees their world. But if communication is to take place between the two, then IT needs to learn how to talk and listen differently. Michael Schrage, author and a research fellow at MIT Sloan School's Center for Digital Business, blogged about his own consulting experience for Procter & Gamble at Harvard Business Review .
Schrage was hired to run an innovation workshop for P&G's R&D group. Quite by accident he saw a three-paged memo about his work that was attached to the invitation that was sent to prospective workshop attendees at the company. Basically, he says, they "translated" his book on the subject into "P&G-ese." They went beyond editing or synthesizing his ideas, he explains, they "rewrote my words, phrases and recommendations in P&G research community language."
This was an "aha" moment for Schrage because it showed him how P&G sees things. "Communicating advice is one thing, getting to see how that advice is actually interpreted and communicated is another," says Schrage. Too often people don't try to comprehend how the people they are communicating with understand things. Instead they try to educate them and try to get them to see things their way. Or they talk down to them, figuring that is the only way to explain something complex. Neither works well.
Schrage has some good advice: Find "partners in translation." In other words, "explicitly ask people to translate" what you are planning to say in a presentation. He suggests asking translation partners questions like this: "How would you explain this to your colleagues? Your boss? Your best customer?"
While his advice is from a consultant's perspective, I think it would work well for IT professionals. Asking a business colleague to review your upcoming business presentation from the standpoint of how he or she would explain this to other business colleagues could provide valuable insight. Says Schrage, "If you're an executive, an expert or an advisor seeking to innovate with people who literally understand key concepts differently than you do, then translation - not just teaching - needs to become a core competence." But don't try to translate it yourself, he warns; find ways to "get people to become your partners in translation."